That is the title of another book by Stephen Mitchell, whose translation of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching I have many times recommended on this blog and in my books. The subtitle is: A New Translation and Guide to his Essential Teachings for Believers and Unbelievers.
Mitchell undertakes an effort begun by such noted Americans as Thomas Jefferson and Ralph Waldo Emerson, both of whom assayed to differentiate the life and words of Jesus from the hype, falsehood, misdirection and fear they perceived had been added to the Scriptures by others.
I am going to share one passage from the introduction of Mitchell’s book that I believe might resonate on several levels with people who have invested in the Scientology experience.
Excerpt from The Gospel According to Jesus:
He enjoys eating and drinking, he likes to be around women and children; he laughs easily, and his wit can cut like a surgeon’s scalpel. His trust in God is as natural as breathing, and in God’s presence he is himself fully present. In his bearing, in his very language, he reflects God’s deep love for everything that is earthly: for the sick and the despised, the morally admirable and the morally repugnant, for weeds as well as flowers, lions as well as lambs. He teaches that just as the sun gives light to both wicked and good, and the rain brings nourishment to both righteous and unrighteous, God’s compassion embraces all people. There are no pre-conditions for it, nothing we need to do first, nothing we have to believe. When we are ready to receive it, it is there. And the more we live in its presence, the more effortlessly it flows through us, until we find that we no longer need external rules or Bibles or Messiahs.
“For this teaching which I give you today is not hidden from you, and is not far away. It is not in heaven, for you to say, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down for us, so that we can hear it and do it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, for you to say, ‘Who will cross the sea and bring it back for us, so that we can hear it and do it?’ But the teaching is very near to you: it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”